Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stem Cell Breakthrough Proves Government Intervention Works

I have several reactions to the breakthrough allowing researchers the flexibility of embryonic stem cells without requiring the destruction of an embryo.

1. I'm glad that "embryonic" stem cell research will now get adequate funding (moderate but staunchly anti-choice Republican Chris Smith's bill to fund non-embryo-destroying stem cell research passed the House with "Dr." Ron Paul casting the lone NAY vote.
2. I'm disgusted that the Bush administration chose to hold up life-saving research for over 6 years.

However, there's another very important lesson that I don't expect the media to pick up on, if only because it's contrary to the interests of the media conglomerates which stand to be broken up if government intervention comes into vogue again.

Government intervention and restriction WILL spur innovation

While I heartily disapproved of the Bush administration's decision to prohibit funding for embryonic stem cell research, there's no denying that it spurred this innovation.

Scientists overwhelmingly believe that embryonic stem cells have the potential to save far more lives (and make more money) than adult or cord blood cells.

The federal government's refusal to fund embryo-destroying research created a powerful incentive to get around the restriction by creating "embryonic" stem cells without destroying embryos.

This government-provided incentive combined with American ingenuity resulted in this new technique.

This same principle applies to environmental and energy legislation.

Consider this new ad being run by Ford Motor Company.

Those are some pretty pitiful numbers for fuel efficiency. The market recognizes that gas prices are higher and that more people are caring about fuel efficiency numbers, but it's doing almost nothing to increase those numbers.

Automakers (including not just the Big Three, but Toyota as well) have lobbied Congress against increasing fuel efficiency standards, claiming, among other things, that it'll hurt their industry.

Conservatives have opposed strict carbon caps and elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels on the same grounds. They claim, again, that It's bad for business.

On the DC metro en route from Foggy Bottom to Union Station, I saw an ad sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council (I can't find it online, unfortunately). The ad advocated carbon caps and trading, making the claim that this intervention and restriction by the federal government would result in unprecedented innovation in efficiency and clean energy to meet these caps.

The stem cell breakthrough proves the NRDC's point in a way that should really hit home.

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